Polishing this Sword


The Swordsman

For ten years I have been polishing this sword;

Its frosty edge has never been put to the test.

Now I am holding it and showing to you, sir:

Is there anyone suffering from injustice?

– Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Jia Dao.


As printed in Liu, James J. Y. The Chinese Knight Errant. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967, p. xii. See the Wikipedia page regarding the youxia, or Chinese knight-errant.

I have owned this book since my Chinese martial arts days, and recently revisited it for a project I’m contemplating, and discovered the Wiki entry linked,.

Liu wrote that this poem:

“seems…to sum up the spirit of knight-errantry in four lines. At the same time, one can also take it as a reflection of the desire of all those who have prepared themselves for years to put their abilities to the test for some justice.”


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